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In the context of growing concern over climate change and other environmental pressures, Biblical Prophets and Contemporary Environmental Ethics explores what an ecological reading of the biblical text can contribute to contemporary environmental ethics. The Judaeo-Christian tradition has been held partly to blame for a negative attitude to creation – one that has legitimised the exploitative use of the earth's resources. Hilary Marlow explores some of the thinking in the history of the Christian tradition that has contributed to such a perception, before discussing a number of approaches to reading the Old Testament from an ecological perspective.
Through a detailed exegetical study of the texts of the biblical prophets Amos, Hosea and First Isaiah, Marlow examines the portrayal of the relationship between YHWH the God of Israel, humanity and the non-human creation. In the course of this exegesis, searching questions emerge: what are the various understandings of the non-human creation that are present in the text? What assumptions are made about YHWH's relationship to the created world and how he acts within it? And what effect do the actions and choices of human beings have on the created world?
Following this close textual study, Marlow examines the problem of deriving ethical norms from the biblical text and discusses some key ethical debates in contemporary environmental theory. Biblical Prophets and Contemporary Environmental Ethics explores the potential contribution of the biblical exegesis to such debates and concludes by proposing an interrelational model for reading the Old Testament prophets in the light of contemporary environmental ethics.
Foreword by John Barton
1: Creation in Church History
2: Nature Versus History: An Artificial Divide
3: Ecological Hermeneutics: Meaning and Method
4: Who Can But Prophesy? Creation Dialogue in the Book of Amos
5: The People do not Know: Covenantal Failure in the Book of Hosea
6: The Vineyard of the Lord of Hosts: YHWH, the People and the Land in Isaiah 1-39
7: The Old Testament Prophets and Environmental Ethics: A Dialogue
Dr Hilary Marlow is a Research Associate in theology and science at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St Edmunds College, Cambridge. She also teaches biblical Hebrew to undergraduates in the Faculty of Divinity and sometimes lectures on the biblical prophets for the Cambridge Theological Federation. She completed her doctorate at the University of Cambridge in 2007. This is her first full-length monograph. She has a longstanding and close connection with the Christian environmental charity A Rocha, and is currently on the operations team of the John Ray Initiative.
"The book provides excellent background for anyone working or teaching in the area of Bible and ecology. It covers much groundhistorically, theologically, and exegeticallywith admirable brevity and great clarity; the superb bibliography points the way for further work"
– Ellen F. Davis, Interpretation
"anyone working in the field of the Bible and environment will welcome this addition to the scholarly literature."
– J. W. Rogerson, Journal of Theological Studies
"Marlow offers a biologically rich and morally sensitive account of the themes of the earth [...] The book is beautifully produced, clearly and engagingly written and richly researched and makes an important contribution to the ongoing reocvery of the Old Testament as a source of ecological wisdom rather than of odium."
– Michael Northcott, Expository Times